|USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) Carrier Airwing Five - HS14
|AW2, R. W. Hoffmann, II
Watch the video! HS-14 Chargers Detatchment Bravo
The original article found on Page 8 published in the Naval Helicopter Association's magazine - 'ROTOR REVIEW'
LT Pamela 'Mumbles' Stefanski
Most rescue swimmers dream of the day they will be called upon to save someone's life. For AW2 Richard Hoffmann, that
day came in September on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) and Carrier Airwing Five (CVW5) had just pulled in to their final port visit of deployment.
AW2 Hoffmann, along with three others on routine shore patrol, came upon a fellow shipmate bleeding excessively from wounds
to his forearm. AW2 Hoffmann, immediately in rescue swimmer mode, quickly made his way through the large crowd of locals
surrounding the injured sailor.
After questioning the two sailors with the victim, AW2 realized he had the most medical training of those on-scene and
he immediately took control of the situation, informing the sailors of his emergency first aid qualifications and directing
them to keep the victim calm and get some water. The victim "had lost so much blood he looked like he would pass out
any minute," recalled Petty Officer Hoffmann.
The wounded sailor had several lacerations to his middle forearm; the one of immediate concern being three inches long
and violently shooting blood with every heartbeat. "There was a very substantial amount of blood on his clothes, as
well as the sidewalk. His blood was 'spurting' out of his wound, due to the arterial bleeding and the deepness of the wound,"
recounted Hoffmann. "My only thought was stopping the bleeding. He was near passing out... I knew if we didn't stop
it, he could possibly lose his life."
I tore off the rest of [the victim's] shredded shirt to use as a bandage and kept one hand with direct pressure on the
wound, while using the other to try and wrap the wound." Meanwhile the victim continued to struggle and fight those
attending to him. "I did my best to keep him calm, not only for cooperation, but because the more upset he became, the
more his blood flow increased, causing him to lose it faster," recalled AW2.
When the ambulance arrived, AW2 Hoffmann along with the other shore patrol members wrestled the victim into the ambulance
and AW2 accompanied him to the hospital. During the quick transit, AW2 attempted to calm the victim "while keeping direct
pressure on his wound as well as clamping down on his brachial pressure point (upper arm) to slow the bleeding. En route
to the hospital, the Malaysian EMT attended further to the victim's arm, while I did my best to rehydrate the injured sailor."
Upon arriving at the local hospital, the staff determined the sailor would need immediate surgery and whisked him away.
It was then that AW2 Hoffmann began fearing for his own personal health. "I realized my hands and arms were covered
in his blood, and my shirt was soaked... I went straight to the sink and cleaned off as thoroughly as possible." Due
to the nature of the victim's bleeding, Petty Officer Hoffmann did not have time to look for proper protective equipment on
the scene. Fortunately for AW2 Hoffmann, he was later informed that the victim did not have any blood borne irregularities.
Reflecting on the situation, AW2 Hoffmann expressed that the most important training he used was to stay calm and focus
on the victim. He emphasized, "If it wasn't for the training we [rescue swimmers] go through, and the dedication of
our instructors, I wouldn't have been able to stop the bleeding and stop a potentially fatal situation. It's obvious how
valuable the training is. Whether in the back of the helicopter or in the streets in a foreign country, we can always step
in 'So Others May Live!' It's not just a motto... Those four words define what it means to be a Rescue Swimmer."